• Nature abhors a vacuum
    In the past year or so, most of us would have become quite familiar with the group of people
    that seem to front up almost daily to discuss the current state of the COVID19 pandemic in
    each Australian jurisdiction. Usually there are a couple of politicians ably backed up by the
    experts in public health management, a high-ranking commissioned Police Officer, with a
    person live translating the discussion into Auslan for the benefit of those with hearing difficulties.
  • What is revving up the bully boys?
    Have you noticed the cluster of loud-mouthed men
    that has appeared recently on our Melbourne streets,
    fists raised, shouting messages of defiance
    directed at our those in authority?
  • We should be better than this
    In The Guardian’s detailed history of the ‘Tampa affair’ which
    occurred twenty years ago, you will notice a number of similarities
    with the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Sadly, you will
    also notice that the response by current Prime Minister Morrison is
    worse than then Prime Minister Howard’s response twenty years ago.
  • Toad of Toad Hall
    This short piece is not intended to be a serious treatise; instead it’s a
    light-hearted appraisal of federal politics. We have had our fill of commentaries
    on the ins and outs of the Canberra scene written by self-confident ‘experts’
    who believe they understand the machinations of the political class.
  • The environmental vandals
    Over the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at some of the less
    savoury aspects of the current Coalition Government, led (for the
    moment) by Scott Morrison. This week, how about we look at the
    environmental record of this government, which reaches back
    to the days when Tony Abbott was the Prime Minister.
  • Protest and perish?
    There have recently been a number of ‘freedom’ rallies across Australia
    where participants seem to be claiming that the current pandemic is
    somewhere between a farce and a ‘deep cover’ operation by unnamed
    authorities to exert control over the mindless minions (that’s the rest of us).

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

Winter winds, wind farms and hot air

About this time of the year the all-year-round residents of Canberra enjoy a reprieve from the hot air produced on Capital Hill. Pity is that this usually combines with winds that come from the Antarctic via the Snowy Mountains to make Canberra shiver through another winter of sub-zero morning...

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How did we get a multi-party Westminster system? Part 2

[The opening of Australia’s first parliament by Tom Roberts] Last week I gave a brief outline of how the Westminster parliamentary system evolved in England. Then came Australia which largely adopted the British parliamentary system and recognised the British monarch as head of state. I ...

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How did we get a multi-party Westminster system? Part 1

[Charles I in parliament: ‘Attempted arrest of the five members’ by Charles West Cope] Earlier this year we had a couple of pieces that raised issues about the parliamentary and party system in Australia (‘President Abbott’ and ‘Instant Experts’) and in June we had the 800th anniversary of Ma...

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Where will we be in 50 years?

In the next few months, most Australians will be considering their financial affairs and the preparation of their annual tax return. It is usually a time for some questioning around how you did manage to spend all that money in the past year and what changes you can make to become thriftier in...

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A failure of the Left

This is a piece about politics but not the politics we normally discuss on TPS. It is a tale of two radical youth: one from the late1960s (me) and one from the 2010s (Jake Bilardi). You probably know the story of Jake Bilardi, the young Australian who early in March became a suicide bomber...

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Where does Abbott really stand on national security?

The idea of ‘national security’ arises from the ‘social contract’ referred to by political philosophers. The concept is that the people gave the power to enforce rules and punishments to their leaders, whether monarchs or elected governments, in return for ‘protection’. Otherwise, in going abo...

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The politics of marriage

While Australia had a uniform Marriage Act from 1961 until 2004, there was nothing specific (except for common law) that prohibited marriage of two people of the same gender. The requirement that marriage was between a man and woman was only inserted into the act by the Howard Government. The ...

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The $19,990 special

The amount of ink spilled in the analysis of the 2015 Australian budget would probably fill Sydney Harbour. The number of electrons expended in the same way would probably light up a small town for a week. There is no need to add to the consumption of electrons here. Instead, let’s look at the sales...

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The unhappy marriage of democracy and capitalism

Most Western countries, including Greece and Australia, have a system of democratic-capitalism. It marries a democratic political system with a capitalist economic system and they are perceived as being well-matched because both are founded on philosophies about individual freedom. It is, howe...

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NAPLAN — a guide or a competition

Most educational institutions in Australia have a ‘tag line’ — a statement that is supposed to be a pithy description of what the entire school community believes in. It isn’t surprising that a lot of the ‘tag lines’ have something to do with recognising the individual talents of each student and ...

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Government budget trickery

I would like to state upfront that I already had the word ‘trickery’ in this title before Bill Shorten used it in his Budget Reply speech. I could say he stole it from me but I suspect he thought of it himself. It is such an appropriate word for this budget. One thing Bill Shorten didn’t m...

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Hope for the homeless

Throughout the world there are people who ’sleep rough’ every night. For a few, that is the way they choose to spend their lives; for the majority, however, the habit is not one of choice or desire — the choice is made for them due to circumstances relating to employment or their personal live...

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Are budgets worth the paper they’re written on?

In this little exercise I have gone through commonwealth government budgets from 1999‒2000 to 2013‒14 to study changes in the figures. The figures for each budget can vary quite significantly. For quite a few years now we have had the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) which up...

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The saga of Billy Gordon

On January 31 this year, Billy Gordon joined a very select group — indigenous members of parliament in Australia. He won the seat of Cook in far north Queensland from the LNP and joined the Queensland parliament as part of the minority ALP government. Late in March, the State parliament sat for ...

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Beware, there is a plan

There is much talk about the ‘chaos’ of the Abbott government but take a close look at what has been done, what it is talking about, and the reports it is gathering together. We need to look beyond the political catch-cries of the ‘debt and deficit disaster’ and ‘Labor’s mess’ and examine what is d...

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Instant Experts

To be in public life you need to have a sense of self-belief. How else would you cope with those that feel they can criticise your actions, private life, as well as decisions you have made in the past? ‘Stars’ such as elite sports professionals, actors, performers and so on can demonstrate that th...

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How the economic rationalists tried to steal our hearts and minds

At the start of the year in my piece ‘Proud to be a bigot’ I mentioned that, before Abbott, Australian governments tended to look after those who were ‘down on their luck’. It was a phrase with which I grew up. People who were unemployed were not ‘dole bludgers’ ...

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The ‘trickle-down’ effect

Next time a conservative politician or acquaintance tells you that tax cuts for the better off will help the state or nation’s economy, you might want to have ‘the discussion’. Tax cuts for the better off is part of a theory of economics known as ‘trickle-down’ that se...

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Intergenerational Reports: what are they on about?

There have now been four Intergenerational Reports (IGR) from 2002  to 2015, issued by three treasurers: Costello (2),  Swan  and Hockey.  They were meant to come out at five-yearly intervals but Swan (and Rudd, although officially they are the Treasurer’s report) brought f...

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Does social media influence politics?

The new fashion in Australian politics seems to be leadership change. In the past ten years, we’ve seen Rudd overthrown by Gillard (only to succeed in a subsequent challenge a couple of years later), three federal opposition leaders in the Rudd/Gillard government era, the overthrow of a Victorian p...

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